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Fantasy Baseball Player Debate: George Springer vs. Yordan Alvarez

One of the greatest aspects of fantasy sports, and sports in general, are the debates. Whether you’re debating with a co-worker, significant other, friend, or even drunk Uncle Bob at the family reunion, the debates are endless. That’s what brings us here today. In the fantasy baseball world, player debates are everywhere, including in your own mind when trying to make that tough draft-day decision. Well, we’re here to help. Today we debate two slugging Astros stars, George Springer and Yordan Alvarez to see who should be picked first in 2020 leagues.

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George Springer or Yordan Alvarez in 2020?

Eric Cross (@EricCross04) – Yordan Alvarez

Duh. Did you really think I was going to pick against the almighty Yordan Alvarez here? One could argue that he was the best hitter in the American League from 6/9 on when he made his debut.  Alvarez slashed .313/.412/.655 with 26 doubles, 27 home runs, 78 RBI, and 58 runs scored in just 87 games with Houston. That would put him on pace to exceed 50 homers and 150 RBI over a full season. Here are his ranks for all players with 350-plus plate appearances last season.

  • ISO: .342 (3rd)
  • SLG: .655 (2nd)
  • wOBA: .432 (3rd)
  • wRC+: 178 (2nd)
  • OPS: 1.067 (3rd)
  • Hard Contact: 51.1% (4th)

Need I go on? The only person in the American League in the same stratosphere as Alvarez was that Mike Trout fellow.  Just as sexy as his metrics was Alvarez’s statcast data…

The only area Springer can best Yordan is steals. And by what? 5-10 at most? Springer barely runs anymore and only had six last season. While he’s a strong contributor in the other four categories as well, Springer cannot match the pure upside of Alvarez. I’d give the AVG and HR edge to Yordan here with a bigger gap than the handful of extra steals Springer provides.

Nathan Dokken (@NathanDokken) – Yordan Alvarez

George Springer is an established veteran who has averaged 106.5 runs scored per season over the past four years. Yet, somehow, it is the reigning unanimous AL Rookie Of The Year Yordan Alvarez who feels less risky to me. Even if you project extreme amounts of regression from his 369 plate appearances sample, he still looks like a lock for 40+ HR with a .290+ average and .370+ OBP. Toss numbers like that in the middle of a potent Astros lineup, and you get a four-category monster. Springer has the edge in speed, but 5-10 steals isn’t enough to tip the scales when you consider he has only played over 140 games once.

Jorge Montanez (@JMontanez90) – George Springer

Astros teammates George Springer and Yordan Alvarez sit back-to-back in my outfield rankings at 11th and 12th respectively. The margin between them is razor-thin. Both are absolute fantasy studs. That said, just a few things are going against Alvarez that has me siding with Springer if given the choice.

A higher strikeout rate and inflated BABIP tells me the average will come down for Alvarez. You’re drafting Alvarez as utility eligible only and we aren’t entirely sure when and if he’ll gain outfield eligibility. Going into his second season, there’s just a bit of risk with a lack of track record for Alvarez. Springer will be leading off and could steal a few bags. Hitting 39 home runs in 122 games put him at a ridiculous pace. Granted, he needs to stay healthy. Still, all else being equal I’m taking Springer just ahead of Alvarez for 2020

Mick Ciallela (@themick23) – George Springer

I’m probably going to be in the minority here, but I’ll take George Springer. Springer fell just shy of 100 runs, 40 homers, and 100 RBI in 2019. What many seem to forget is he also missed six weeks of the season with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. If he plays a full complement of games, he has the potential to be a top-10 contributor in all three categories. He would have had an outside chance to lead the American League in all three categories had he played 150-plus games last season. Of course, Alvarez’s per-162 numbers are also prolific. Alvarez has a bit more pop but will score fewer runs than Springer. However, as dominant as the reigning American League Rookie of the Year was, I worry a bit about Alvarez being able to sustain his production from last year, particularly in batting average.

Alvarez struck out in over a quarter of his plate appearances last season. He is one of just four hitters to bat over .300 with as high a strikeout rate. His .366 BABIP was the seventh-highest among hitters with at least 350 plate appearances. To me, these numbers suggest that his .313 batting average from last year may be on the high side of his range of outcomes. His xBA (expected batting average) of .289 is a more accurate reflection of his skill set. When you consider that Springer has an xBA of .287, he is just as likely as Alvarez to hit .300. Springer will also have 50-100 more at-bats than Alvarez provided a full season for both players. If they each hit .300, Springer’s impact on your fantasy team’s batting average will be greater than Alvarez’. It’s close, but I prefer Springer.

Paul Mammino (@paulmammino) – George Springer

For what seems like the first time in this series I am not able to just yell steals and finish off the discussion for why I like one guy better. Both Springer and Alvarez are insanely close on projections and it just becomes a matter of personal preference. For me, that preference leads me to Springer. I’ve long felt the talented OF is one of the most under-appreciated players in all of baseball and his overall skill set as a hitter is elite. He showed a big jump in power we have never seen before without sacrificing contact.

While nothing in the profile really changed much he did have a career-low GB rate with a small bump in FB%. Hitting leadoff for one of the most potent offenses in the game he also racks up RBI opportunities to go with his huge run totals. Injuries have been an issue but he has a long-running track record of success and he is one of my favorite players in all of fantasy baseball to own. Plus he does steal a few more bases as a bonus.

Andrés Chávez (@andres_chavez13) – Yordan Alvarez

In 2019, Yordan Alvarez hit 50 home runs in 143 games when we combine Triple-A and MLB stats. Sure, George Springer knocked 39 balls out of the park in only 122 games at the highest level, which is impressive in its own right, but the Cuban phenom is younger (22 years old to Springer’s 30) and had slight edges in batting average (.313 to .292) and walk rate (14.1 to 12.1 BB%.)

If Springer stole bases as he used to when he was a prospect or in his early MLB days, I would lean to his side. With that no longer being the case, however, give me the beast with the outstanding Statcast profile (95th percentile exit velocity, 95th percentile hard-hit rate, 98th percentile xwOBA, 88th percentile xBA, and 98th percentile xSLG.) Additionally, there is a chance we haven’t seen the best of Alvarez yet. I genuinely think he can hit 50 home runs this season with an average near .300 and with very healthy counting stats.

The Verdict: Tied 3-3

Media Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire, Baseball Savant.

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